In the tight neighbourhoods of northern Kyoto, it's almost impossible to find open green areas where children can play freely. But for this Japanese couple with three of them, architecture studio 07Beach found soon a solution: bringing the outdoor courtyard indoors by placing a ficus benjamina tree right in the middle of the house.

According to the clients’ request, the house was designed as one big space, so they would be able to see their kids from every corner – where they are, what they’re doing. The space is divided between two floors, but a double-height ceiling not only lets in as much light as possible during the daytime, but also makes the space look larger as a whole.

On one side of the tree, the ground floor consists of a kitchen and a dining area. On the other side of the ficus, instead, a glass-fronted tiled-in green bathroom was created to give the feeling of open-air bathing – almost like a traditional Japanese onsen.

A staircase running along the eastern perimeter of the space leads to the upper floor: it holds the simply furnished tatami mat room, enclosed by sliding wooden screens. Outside of this room, a large hallway – also made with exposed wooden slats – serves as an inside balcony overlooking the central garden.